Even as the wraps come off tentative deals negotiated between the United Auto Workers union and the Big Three auto makers, aspects of the talks remain shrouded in mystery.
Such as strategy.
Ron Gettelfinger, UAW president, declines to reveal the union's motivation for maintaining simultaneous contract negotiations with General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler Group — plus suppliers Delphi Corp. and Visteon Corp. — up to, and even after, the Sept. 14 expiration date of the previous contract, instead of selecting a strike target.
The result was five agreements in five days, without any production stoppage.
Reports suggest the UAW succeeded in staving off attempts to erode the health-care benefits of its members, despite skyrocketing costs to the Big Three.
In apparent exchange, the union accepted lower wage increases and acquiesced to OEM overtures prompted by overcapacity — considered by many the core issue before talks began.
The companies and UAW are mum, but the Detroit Free Press reports the deal has the potential to affect 20 plants or offices — through sale or closure — and 50,000 jobs, many through attrition, at the five companies.